The Victorian Era is marked by Queen Victoria’s reign in England from 1837-1901 (Eras of Elegance). It is known for its attention to high morals, modesty, and proper decorum, which was inspired by the Queen and her husband, Prince Albert. Importance was placed on civic consciousness and social responsibility, including equality towards all. Science, technology and Christianity thrived. Humanitarian and religious organizations, such as the Salvation Army, reflected the Victorian concern for the poor and needy. The Church was wealthy and powerful. Only the rich could afford education, so most were left uneducated, unable to think critically. The people believed the word of the Bible and that was all that mattered. However, growing industrialization led to numerous challenges to Christianity. Education became available to all, so they had the ability to form opinions. Urbanization took effect. Problems included growing trends on materialism, nationalism, communism and higher criticism of the Bible (Eras of Elegance).
Playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland (Wright 54). He was the son of two very talented parents. His father, Sir William Ralph Wills Wilde, was a leading eye and ear surgeon, scholar, and noted archeologist. His mother, Jean Francesca Elgee, wrote passionate nationalistic articles for the radical newspaper, The Nation (Wright 54). Although Wilde did not do well in school, he loved the classics and found a passion for writing. He began writing plays, essays, a novel, and many short stories, becoming
famous for everything he wrote. “I’ll be a poet, a writer, a dramatist. Somehow or other I’ll be famous, and if not famous, I’ll be notorious,” said Wilde.
Wilde published “The Happy Prince and Other Tales” in 1888 (eLibrary).Throughout his short stores, such as “The Remarkable Rocket” and “The Star Child”, Oscar Wilde demonstrates his pride and flamboyancy, which lead to his demise. Christine Dolen, author of “Wilde About Oscar” wrote that Wilde delighted in taking jabs at moral hierocracy in his works (1). Dolen believes Wilde was caught in the middle of a war between an industrial, religious, moral, Victorian society and an individualist, social, aesthetic movement.
In the short story, “The Remarkable Rocket,” a prideful firecracker is very excited to be lit and set off for the King to see. When he finally gets to shoot off, it is daylight and nobody sees or hears him (Wilde 29). The Rocket comes from two remarkable parents just like Wilde. He thinks himself superior. He sets himself apart from the rest of the firecrackers saying, “How fortunate for the King’s son that he is to be married on the very day on which I am to be let off” (Wilde 29). Like the character he created, Wilde thought himself superior. When Wilde travels to America for his plays to be debuted, he was asked if he has anything to declare. Wilde said the only thing to declare was his genius.
The short story, “The Star Child,” tells of a beautiful angel like boy whose arrogance leads him to turn as ugly as his soul is. He must learn to pity others to regain his beauty. He does learn to love and pity others and lives happily in his kingdom, then dies because of the trials he faced. The next ruler rules evilly (Wilde 117). The character of the Star Child and Wilde are quite similar. They transcend the normal appearances. “The Star Child is white and delicate as sawn ivory, and his red flower, and his eyes were like violets by the river of pure water, and his body like the narcissus of a field where the mower comes not” (Wilde 117). He is beautiful while the rest of the town’s people have average appearances and dark hair. The Star Child only loves himself. The story states that in the summer, when winds were still, he would lie by the well in the priest’s orchard and look down at the marvel of his own face, and laugh for the pleasure he